In the past 20 years, we've seen grocery stores come and go in downtown Hagerstown. Grand Union on Baltimore Street became Community Market, then closed. The A&P on Potomac Street became Sword's Market, then closed. The Martin's Supermarket on Cleveland Avenue, on the fringe of downtown, moved to a larger location on U.S. 40 East.
None of these decisions were driven by a dislike of downtown, or the people who live there. It was business, pure and simple, and getting a store to provide better service to downtown residents will take more than the petition drive currently under way.
What will it take? A cooperative effort between city government officials, the Washington County Commission on Aging and someone (or some corporation) willing to provide residents with more than they have now.
Downtown actually does have two markets now - Spickler's on Franklin Street and the Potomac Grocery on South Potomac Street. In fairness to these merchants (who will certainly be affected by any new competition) they ought to get first shot at any government help with expansion. They know downtown clientele and what sells and what doesn't.